Urban Earth

In 2008 I started a project to walk across some of the world’s biggest cities taking a photo every 8 steps. I was a teaching secondary school geography and wanted to show my students what these places looked like (yes, this was before Street View). The walks were carefully planned so that their lengths reflected the size of each city and the routes represented the distribution of deprivation.

It was an incredible experience.

The project was supported by drinks company SUSO* who made this short film about it.

Urban Earth features in Ecological Urbanism by Mohsen Mostafavi, Street Knowledge by King Adz and a number of magazines, journals and other publications.

The experience has had a big influence on my work since, not least the campaign to make London a National Park City.

It’s also inspired a series of what I call Urban Story walks. For these walks I use maps to follow specific themes by going on depressing, violent or unhealthy walks. The experimental film below was made by going on a canopy walk across London and taking a photo every 3 seconds looking directly upwards. Between 5am and 10pm I took 86,846 steps and 10,565 photos. This film plays the photos back at 30 frames per second.